Buffalo Grove Civics Forum schools students in how local government works
For at least one day every year, you don't have to be elected to serve as a Buffalo Grove village board member.
The village's annual Civics Forum, held this year on Sept. 28, gives Buffalo Grove and Stevenson High School students a chance to take on the duties of village trustees for a day.
Student trustees consider proposals from classmates serving as members of the village staff. Then they decide which one to adopt.
This isn't playacting. This is real government in action, resulting in a policy decision that will be implemented by the village.
During the event, students met with village staff, had a meal at Sal & Tony's restaurant at the Buffalo Grove Golf Course and then held a board meeting, where Buffalo Grove High student Maya Belorusskiy served as president.
The rest of the board consisted of Stevenson students Noah Schechter, Audrey Bullock and Kashyap Rajesh, and Buffalo Grove students Riya Nath, Joey Muskal and Lincoln Culp. Sophia Lowy of Stevenson served as village clerk and Shipra Jha of Stevenson as village manager.
The actual village clerk, Jan Sirabian, said the forum has been a tradition in the village for more than 40 years. Its purpose, she said, is to teach students the importance of voting in municipal elections, as well as to see what it's like to be involved in a community.
"When these students leave here tonight, they will know more about municipal government than the majority of people that live in this community, or any community," she said.
She recalled growing up in Chicago, where the precinct captain would come to call on one's home with a big bag of candy.
"I thought you had to be a lawyer to be involved in municipal government, or any kind of government," she said. "We want them to see how easy it is to become involved in your community."
The winning proposal came from Stevenson students Amish Avasarala and Gryphon Chong. They proposed buying a $1,700 pulley system and demolition hammer to help the fire department with rescues in the event of a structure or trench collapse.
"Right now, with all the construction, all the developments that are going on, the potential for those types of accidents is pretty high," Gryphon said.
"It's going to keep people safe and, as they talked about when they showed us their fire truck today, those tools last 20-30 years," student Trustee Lincoln Culp said.
Other proposals included: a Dell 75-inch 4K interactive touch screen monitor to help the public works department design projects; a 10th-generation iPad for the finance and community development departments; a photographic lidar, a device used for speed enforcement, for the police department; and naturalized landscaping at the Buffalo Grove Youth Center.